Madonna’s Madame X Show
Lights down. Stage left – black suited male. Stage right – silhouette of female at typewriter. Staccato taps,. Loud, punching holes through the expectant air. Black suited male strikes a pose, then another, and again, synchronised to each tap. And words. Projected across the backdrop. Sentences form.… ‘THE CRIME YOU DISCOVER YOU ARE GUILTY OF.. ‘ until the words push beyond the backdrop, projected into the audience. We are part of whatever this is… ‘ARTISTS ARE…. ‘ … are what? What are they? ‘ARTISTS ARE HERE TO DISTURB THE PEACE’. Gunshot. Victim. Black suited male spun round by bullet. Hit again, slumps.
This is it. Now, the music.
Well, honestly? I’d never been to a Madonna concert before and had no idea what to expect. Madame X? The last time I’d seen her was on the wall of the Met Art Museum in New York, Sargent’s scandalous portrait of a young woman whose right shoulder strap had slipped tantalisingly down her arm. So, yes, I had no idea what I was in for.
Now, I knew it wasn’t going to be just about the music. This 61 year old was staking her claim to a place in the pantheon of ARTistic greats, each song performed with a natural exuberance that belied its choreographed perfection. Even when she switched from the newly released songs of her Madame X – which I didn’t know – to the familiar landscape of “Papa Don’t Preach’ and ‘Vogue’, the performance was as fluent and articulate as a .. Picasso. Mmm? Was I getting carried away, not by the art, but by the live music vibe?
Talking of which, Madonna introduced us to the music that has captured her imagination whilst living in Lisbon. Moments such as this when she engaged with us, the audience, made me feel that I wanted to sit down and have a coffee with her. The effervescent Batuque music of Cape Verde brought to life by the female Orquestra Batukadeiraswas matched by the lyrical Portuguese tradition of Fado and a handsome young exponent of the Portuguese guitar.
We even met Family Madonna, or at least her three young daughters, Mercy, Estere and Stelle who sing merrily beside her, incanting ‘I’m not your bitch’, and the elder Lourdes who dances on video to her mother’s rendition of ‘Frozen’.
As we walk home on a cold, but not quite freezing, January night, I’m quietly elated by the experience. I hadn’t just listened to some live music, I had just enjoyed a sumptuous, preposterous, ‘slap in the face and wake up’, work of ART.
Tina Cook QC